How I Shoot How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking processes. In this post, Finn Beales (@finn) explains “dodging and burning,” a  photo-editing technique popularized by American photographer Ansel Adams.

Vantage Point: I generally look for a strong central focal point. A roadway, tree or something else that sits smack in the center of the frame.

Shooting: I shoot with the iPhone native camera app and usually expose my pictures to a mid-tone, bringing back areas that I want to highlight during processing. There’s often a lot of detail in the sky, as well as the shadows, and it’s a shame to lose this. Double tap an area on the screen that is closest to the midpoint between black and white (i.e gray). This will give you the best exposure for all the elements in the frame. 

Editing: For this photo, I made edits using Snapseed. First, use Tune image > Ambiance at about 30% to put some life back into the picture. Next, choose the selective adjust tool and add points to areas of the image that you want to enhance. I generally work with the light already in the picture. It’s a simple process of brightening the highlights and darkening the shadows, always working to isolate the subject at the center of the frame. This technique is called dodging and burning, and the legendary Ansel Adams was a master of it (although he used chemicals to get the effect as opposed to a swipe of the finger!).

When you’re finished editing in Snapseed, save the photo and then apply an Instagram filter that tones the image according to your preference. In this case, I used Sierra.